California School Board Votes Against Hiring Law Firm to Represent It If Sued by State Over Parent Notification

California School Board Votes Against Hiring Law Firm to Represent It If Sued by State Over Parent Notification

Murrieta Valley Unified schools must notify parents if their child wishes to identify as transgender under a new policy approved by the district’s board at a board meeting in Murrieta, Calif., on Aug. 10, 2023. (Micaela Ricaforte/The Epoch Times)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

5/14/2024

Updated: 5/14/2024

After defying the state last month with its decision to keep a transgender notification policy in place, Murrieta Valley’s school board voted May 9 to not hire a law firm that represents another local school board facing a lawsuit over a similar policy.
The board voted 3–2 against adopting a contract with local law firm Advocates for Faith & Freedom, with trustees in opposition saying it was unnecessary as there was currently no lawsuit against them.
In April, the board also voted 3–2 to keep its transgender notification policy—which requires parents to be notified if their child wishes to identify as transgender—in place, defying a state order to reverse it.
The California Department of Education ordered the board to rescind the policy April 10. Two days later district officials announced they would no longer enforce the policy in a letter to the school community, but a week later, voted to keep it in place.
The board members did not specify why they were considering such a contract. The board and the law firm in consideration didn’t respond to requests for comment by press time.
Trustees in opposition to the contract expressed at the meeting concern over the cost of legal fees.
Several parents who spoke against the contract also cited financial concerns.
“I believe this board is financially irresponsible,” one parent said during public comment. “The outing policy affects less than 1 percent of the student body. That means 99 percent of the student body is not involved in this, but they will suffer when the education budget is cut … to pay legal fees.”
Another parent, who supported hiring the firm, said that she supported the parental notification policy and would support the board’s legal defense of such.
“I’m a taxpayer. I’m a mom,” the parent said. “If we go to litigation and Advocates for Faith and Freedom will represent the district for a potential litigation, then let’s take it to the Supreme Court.”
However, an attorney representing the firm told trustees at the meeting that its work would be pro-bono, meaning done at no cost.
The law firm is also representing the Temecula Valley Unified School District in a lawsuit brought last August by a group of district educators over its policy banning critical race theory. The group added the district’s parent notification policy to the suit earlier this year.
In February, a judge ruled that both policies can remain in place while the case is in court.
The attorney also said that Temecula Valley is not paying attorney fees, only various other legal fees, which have cost the district “under $3,000” so far.
Community members attend a Temecula Valley Unified School District board meeting in Temecula, Calif., on Aug. 22, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Community members attend a Temecula Valley Unified School District board meeting in Temecula, Calif., on Aug. 22, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Meanwhile, the Chino Valley Unified School Board—the first to enact a parental notification policy last July—is currently being sued by state Attorney General Rob Bonta, who claims the policy is discriminatory toward LGBT students.
Though the board has since widened the policy to require parent notification for any request to change students’ records, Mr. Bonta is continuing to seek a permanent injunction to end enforcement of the policy altogether.
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Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

Author

Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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